In June, I was invited to attend the Ford Trend Conference all expenses paid, but all opinions are my own.
Last month, I was really excited to get a chance to get an exclusive inside look at what makes Ford tick. At the Ford Trend Conference, this gal had a chance to check out some hot new rides, the trends Ford is paying attention to (trust me you will be happy about this ladies), and of course the vroom behind kick butt Ford cars. This was my first time attending the Ford Trend conference, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Though putting Kenneth Cole, amazing technology, and a power ride all into one event it was sure to be a good time!
Arriving at the Ford Trend Conference
This was the fourth annual Ford Trend conference held in Dearborn, Michigan. A few years ago, Ford realized rather than keeping the trends they were watching a secret they would share this information in an annual Ford Trends booklet with some of the hottest names in design, technology, and trends. Ever since then, the Ford Trend conference was born. It’s now an annual meeting of some of the hottest trend setters, designers, and engineering masterminds that really gives an amazing inside look into what is to come from Ford.
The first day of the conference was pretty mellow as everyone was arriving for the conference. Upon check in, they had manicures waiting for us to try out the new OPI Mustang nail polish collection. It’s the 50th anniversary of the Mustang, and OPI and Ford joined together to put together a rocking nail collection to help celebrate. I’m not the girly girl most are, but I have to say there is just something hot about having a nail polish to match your Mustang. (I am still waiting on the Mustang to arrive. Until then I have this awesome sparkly blue manicure)
The festivities began later in the evening with the opening dinner. It was quite the soiree where we got to hear directly from the newly appointed CEO, Mark Fields, Kenneth Cole, and Harvard business professor Clay Christiansen. It was fascinating to hear how Ford is trying not only to “get comfortable out of their comfort zone,” but how they are teaming up with world leaders in design and meeting customer’s needs to make that happen.
After hearing the inspiring words of these men, we also learned that in 2015 Ford has completely redesigned the 2015 Ford Edge. From the ground up, they have made a brand new model of this vehicle. It’s going to be a machine that helps meet the needs of the customers before they even know they have the needs. Ford has designed the 2015 Ford Edge to not only be an amazing vehicle, but it also has the capability to be a mobile office, mobile entertainment center, or even a mobile family center to meet everyone’s needs. Just check out some of the new specifications of the 2015 Ford Edge
Active Noise Cancellation system
Two new EcoBoost engines increase capability and efficiency;
paddle-style gear shifting modeled on Formula 1 racing transmissions amps up the fun factor, and MUCH more!
Day Two: Women Rule the World, Saving Water, and a Company Making a Difference
Day Two of the conference was the meat and potatoes of why we were there. This is where we got to hear from Sheryl Connelly, the Ford Global Trends and futuring expert, whose job is to predict where trends are headed in the future and what trends Ford is watching now. The day consisted of some really interesting panels discussing some of the trends in the upcoming year. Because I’m a little green minded and of course a powerhouse woman, I chose to attend the female frontier and sustainability blues panels. These discussed how women are taking over the world, and how Ford is doing in helping reserve water resources around the globe.
It probably comes as no surprise that the Female Frontier panel was my absolute favorite. During this panel, we had a chance to hear from Jennifer Senior, New York Magazine; Chantel Lendard, Director of Marketing, Ford Motor Company; John Gerzema, NYT Best Selling Author; and Jenna Wolf, Today Show anchor. The speakers were really awe inspiring. Each had a very different take on their field, but they all seemed to agree that women needed to be recognized to be the powerhouses that we are.
During the panel, the group discussed the paradoxes that women deal with on a daily basis, and how women are really the purchasing power holders across America. Even though women hold 80% of the purchasing power in American households, we seemingly hold very few upper management positions. There is a shift coming in our country away from that, and Ford is watching to see how they can be a part of the process towards that change.
It was really refreshing to hear that Ford is listening that 75% of women feel misunderstood by car manufacturer’s. They recognize that it’s their job to figure out how to change this. Simply put because women don’t look at car needs the same as men, to successfully market to the women that have the purchasing power companies need to listen more to what women are saying. Hearing Ford say this, made this car girl very happy.
My take away from this panel was that women are overworked and stretched thin (not that we didn’t know that already), and that we need to have the courage to ask for what we need whether it be from what we are looking for in our vehicles or in our lives in general. This message fit so nicely with what I try to write about here on Crunchy Frugalista. As women, we need to kick the guilt to the curb, recognize our awesomeness, and realize there is only so much can do in a day and that’s ok!
Day Three: Cars that Park Themselves, Big Girl Trucks, and Ghost Drivers?
The third day of the conference was the hands on part, and probably the part I looked forward to the most. I had a chance to participate in the Ford Ecoboost Challenge when it came to Minneapolis last year, and had a taste of the fun stuff that Ford does at their test track events. For the last day, we got to take a look at the test tracks and some super top secret vehicles. (Put it this way, they were covered in camouflage) It was really cool!
They had different driving stations set up for us, so I got to take a whirl in the Ford Focus Electric Vehicle (mommy wants one) as well as some of the other Ford Focus ST models. Luckily this time they had automatics and stick shifts because it’s been over a decade since I have driven a stick. I’m happy to report that I didn’t take out any cones, AND I managed to get those bad boys up to 40 MPH on a very short course. If I could drive like that more often, I might offer to help Mr. Crunchy with the driving around the Twin Cities more often.
The coolest thing that I saw on the test track was the 2015 model super secret vehicle that not only has park assist, but it does park assist in a perpendicular parking spot. You thought it was crazy to have it help you parallel park? Well, Ford is now coming out with a model that helps you park in regular spots too. Being the control freak that I am, the idea of park assist was absurd to me. How the heck could a car park in a parallel spot better than I could? Let’s just say after seeing both of them work Ford has made me a believer. The secret is you are always in control of the brake so if you think it’s too tight you just brake. Though I have to say it did park the car better than I could ever do.
The wildest thing that I did was ride in a van that was driven by no one. Literally! There was no one in the driver seat. The dude that was controlling the robot in the vehicle was hundreds of miles away. That technology is still being developed as it was a wee bit of a bumping ride, but we made it all the way around the test track in one piece. Not sure if I will ever be comfortable with that in real life, since I just got to be ok with park assist. You never know though, it might be where the future of cars is headed.
Before we headed home, we had a last stop at the Ford F150 plant to see how America’s number one selling truck was made. It was my first time ever in a manufacturing plant like that. It was really neat to see so many hard working men and women putting together the vehicles. Each and every day that plant sends off over 1,000 trucks. It was crazy. If you ever get a chance, the museum tour is open to the public. You should really check it out.
I wouldn’t think myself a truck kind of gal, but after seeing all the power, tech, and design that is in the new 2015 Ford F150 I texted Mr. Crunchy to tell him that there was another car on my wish list. (Somehow I think he might regret me going on this trip) There were so many cool features on the truck, like retracting sideboards, electric plugs, a rear view camera that washes the dirt away. Plus, it’s big enough to fit my family of five. Sigh. I might just need to order one of every Ford model. (Darn my affinity to really cool, teched out cars)
The Ford Trend conference was an amazing event, and even further my love for the Ford brand. (My first car was a 1986 Ford Escort wagon) In a world where so many companies are all about the almighty dollar it was really refreshing to hear this company isn’t just about profits, but they are about changing the lives of their customers and the lives of the world one need at a time. It makes me proud to be a Ford owner to this very day.